What is your interest and motivation for serving as a LEAF board member?
What experience do you bring?
Aside from my work at LEAF, I have a BSc in Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto and previously worked at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Presently, I work as a Natural Environment Coordinator for the City of Richmond Hill where I manage several projects related to urban forests, such as woodland restoration/creation, the natural area inventory and drafting the City's first Urban Forest Management Plan.
What do you see as some of the most pressing issues facing the urban forest?
I think there are two categories of issues facing the urban forest presently - ecological threats and social threats. In regards to ecological threats, invasive species, pests and diseases, as well as a changing climate and the anticipated increase in weather extremes (i.e., ice storms, wind, droughts, etc.) are pressing issues that I believe we are only just beginning to see the impacts of.
I also think many decision-makers still view trees as a nice-to-have. We need to shift towards valuing trees as assets that provide a wide range of quantifiable services to the public.
How do you see LEAF currently, or potentially, addressing some of these issues?
Michelle: I think LEAF's practical and science-based approach to engaging residents to care for trees on public and private property helps to lend credibility to, and understanding of, trees as essential assets. LEAF's programs that target planting on private property are an important and effective way to strengthen our urban forest - the majority of trees and space for potential trees are on private property!
Janet McKay is the Executive Director at LEAF.
LEAF offers a subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program for private property. The program is supported by The City of Toronto, The Regional Municipality of York, The City of Markham, The Town of Newmarket, The Town of Ajax Ontario Power Generation and Toronto Hydro. For details on how you can participate, visit http://yourleaf.org.